Unusual disruptions have become a reality over the past few months.
Our day-to-day routines have been distorted.
Production and manufacturing have been interrupted.
Workplaces have been rattled.
Even your ability to get a haircut has been disrupted — and it’s strangely all been one uniquely shared global experience.
While about 99% of Breiner Non-Metallics parts stay in the states, we do have some that go to Romania. I talk to our partners there and it’s the same story. They’ve got shelter-in-place orders and are worried about the same things halfway around the world.
While Breiner benefits from nearly all its suppliers, vendors and customers working domestically, the world’s global supply chain has been drastically disrupted by the coronavirus. After years of new technologies and innovations shortening lead times to move items from Point A to Point B more efficiently, we’ve reverted back to the stone ages of shipping.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed hidden dangers and potential problems with extensive, international supply chains. Longer supply chains increase risk for fallout from labor shortages, domestic disputes or international tariffs, trade wars and more.
We have one customer who regularly relies on an international supplier, but mis-ordered and then couldn’t get parts despite them being cut and ready.
When it comes to getting parts from China to production facilities here in America, you have a few options. You can put them on a boat that takes about three months. You can put them on a regular cargo flight that takes about a week, or you can buy them a seat on a plane and that takes about 18 hours.
The 18-hour solution would have been an easy choice for our customer in this instance, but in today’s business landscape of reduced air travel, that 18 hours could actually be six days.
That’s not something you can plan for.
Ultimately, we were able to answer the call and provide our customer their parts that very same day. That company’s production of office devices, which retail for about $2,000, was only briefly held up by a 5-cents-apiece gasket.
As companies around the world temporarily shut down and reopen, some are running into new challenges with suppliers on revised and reduced schedules.
We had a customer who couldn’t get raw materials out of Mexico. Suppliers weren’t considered essential in Mexico and were shut down for a month, leaving them scrambling for castings.
Another client couldn’t get products from their regular supplier, who decided to focus only on medical work and said they didn’t have production time for a small-run batch of parts — even for a loyal customer.
Breiner benefits by our choices to have nearly all of our tools, parts and materials made in America. Just one of the hundreds of polymers we work with has proven impossible to receive lately — originally a Japanese material that is sliced into thin sheets as needed in Mexico.
We’re proud to partner with healthcare manufacturers, military defense contractors and more on products that go on to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. You may encounter some of our work the next time you’re grocery shopping as we’ve partnered with a company creating plexiglass barriers to make the simple rubber bumpers for the bottoms of the barriers many businesses will need to install to reopen.
While a coronavirus-blocking barrier bumper isn’t something we ever thought we’d be making, our penchant for pivoting to new projects at a moment’s notice is nothing new. Everything we do positions us to respond and create never-before-seen parts in as little as one day.
If you haven’t needed to localize your supply chain already, it’s only a matter of time. Keep Breiner in mind for when you need an emergency-response solution to solve a production crisis.